I spend time trying to behave myself and then stop a minute and wonder why I waste a brain cell to please a human. I’m a bear of a dog weighing two-hundred pounds, more than my own Kahu’s lanky frame. Just for fun, I pull him to the floor and wrestle, gentle like, so I don’t hurt the one I was born to protect even though I let him think he’s the boss since he pays the bills to our dog palace. Yeah, we wrestle and sweat on each other, enjoy the smells and when he stops breathing easy, I drag his body to the shower and turn on the faucet.

We mix it up by hiking, visiting the farm stand where I’m allowed to fill my own basket with what looks good but am discouraged from sampling the fruit before tossing it in with the rest of the produce. The farmer’s afraid to say anything when I sniff the goods to see if they were ripened on the vine. He’s afraid I’ll lose control of myself and grab him by the neck. I don’t usually carry violent thoughts with me unless someone threatens to hurt my Kahu like the other day when a man stuck a knife in his face and told him to hand over his wallet. Naturally, I crashed through the car window and made short work of the pissant thug. Left him near dead. We hustled on outta there. The whole business left my Kahu a mess o’ nerves, and I almost had to drive the car home myself and hide it in the garage. Yeah, we mix up our adventures, so life together never suffers a minute of boredom, although sometimes my sacred guardian needs to take a nap to keep up with his dog companion. I slip underneath the covers next to him so we can snooze together.

The second I step outta my reverie, Millie plops on the dog grapevine and begins her usual diatribe on the difficulties of living with a Bloodhound. “Dawg, you there?” Not in my heart to pretend I’m otherwise disposed, so I acknowledge the beginning of what I know to be a long-drawn-out whine. “I got to tell you Dawg this brute of a roommate isn’t working out for a dog of my refinement. Otto drooled on my new be-dangled blouse Dog Mom bought for me, and now it’s got to be taken to the drycleaners.” I roll my eyeballs on Millie’s clothes being drycleaned instead of thrown in the washer. Makes me pause for a moment and turn on the gratitude button my Kahu doesn’t feel the need to dress me in anything but a red neckerchief like I was an overweight Harley biker but at least still looking my manly self. “Dawg, you listening?” I sympathize some more. “I’ve about had enough of him and was wondering if you could find another home for a dog that belongs outside where social manners and a bit a grace isn’t necessary to survive the gentility of an up-town life.”

Takes me a second to understand she wants Yours Truly to put aside his integrity and ask Otto to leave the home he’s come to love. No one else in Otto’s world has a problem with his behavior. They adore the big jowly guy and laugh when he’s too lazy to chase a squirrel standing right next to him. No, I put my foot down with Miss Millie and tell her to treat her brother like he came from the same litter, and then I go on to say she keeps forgetting dogs are pack animals and it’s in their nature to seek comfort from the ones they live alongside.

My mind veers off course a second from this last thought and wonders if Bella and Skip are now members of our pack. I personally haven’t given much attention to romance; it being a distraction from my buddies needing me on the grapevine. And too, not many girls want to take on this much dog. I confess to being a burly sort if you only look at the outer appearance of this noble being, but I do have a kind heart; otherwise, I wouldn’t have the patience to listen to Millie complain about nothing that amounts to anything. 

“Hey Dawg, this here’s Otto. Heard little Missy complainin’ agin. I surely did drool on her pertty blouse. Tried to clean it up with the oil rag Dog Dad uses on the car but made things a whole sight worse, and now I’m coolin’ my heels in the hoosegow. Fer the life o’ me, I can’t seem to do nothin’ right in Millie’s eyes. She’s got a bead on gettin’ rid of my sorry butt if I ain’t careful. Jus’ sayin’, Dawg. Don’t ‘xpect there’s much to be done when dealin’ with a diva.”

I clue the poor guy on the need to develop some attitude. I tell him to go and look at himself in a full-length mirror. Right now, he’s lying in the mudroom on a pile of dirty laundry trying to make himself appear small. He hears me and moseys to the bathroom where he studies himself in the mirror thinking he is nothing but a homely hillbilly dog who had a near brush with death ‘cause he ruined his nose by favoring apple pie instead of something picked up from the floor of a slaughterhouse.

“Otto pull yourself up to full height and look at that impressive face and those ears! You’re a working dog and the envy of your species. You got a nose that can smell a thousand times better than a human, three hundred million scent receptors, more than any other dog and a few apple pies didn’t do a bit of harm to a nose any dog would be proud to call his own. Your jowls can trap a scent if you need to rescue a lost soul. Not speaking metaphorically here. There are humans who fall off a cliff and lie there for a couple of days until rangers rustle up a bloodhound. You are a natural born savior so don’t take no sass from a girl who can’t even comb her own hair and has to wear finery to feel like something valuable.”

We go back and forth like this for a while and don’t really get anywhere, except I’m hopin’ Otto can learn to develop a tolerance for his sister. I offer a little bit of psychology on being the better dog, taking the high road, and concentrating on living in a state of peace. I tell him if he’s peaceful, it will send out a calming vibe to those around him including Millie. Not sure he understands what I’m talking about. Otto tends, as mentioned, to live on the lazy side of life, which is often confused with possessing a calm interior when really lazy is just another word for procrastination. I give his plight a lot of thought and conclude Otto’s self-esteem needs a boost possibly from using his nose to accomplish something valuable instead of spending most days sprawled on the porch sniffing the flowers growing over the back fence. I percolate on the family dynamics for a while to understand exactly where Otto fits in the hierarchy. The thought of a solution gives Otto hope that even his life can be turned into a harmonious canine love fest. The last words I hear from the two of them are Millie telling her canine brother he will never amount to much.

Just then Kahu steps into my comfort zone and sits next to me on the luxurious white couch not meant for a dog of my girth. Fortunately, a cashmere blanket hangs over the cushions I use on the occasions I feel like the need to center myself by slipping into the stillness where most animals go when life among humans throws them too many curve balls. Kahu strokes my rear in a loving fashion using long strokes alternating with some scratches that makes me delirious with happiness.

“Hey, big boy, what you want to do?” My sacred guardian has a voice like a Buddhist monk, soft but firm and touched with a note of sweetness. Naturally, he can’t understand a word I’m saying when I paint an idyllic picture of Bella and Skip coming over for a picnic.

“How about we call Skip for a barbecue and ask him to bring Bella? Would you like that Bernard?” He stares at me as though expecting me to open my mouth and holler back at him. I focus on sending a few thoughts his way on the affirmative, which much to my surprise, he picks up and laughs with glee. I’m not kidding here. My charge fiddles with his tiny phone and begins talking to Skip. Arrangements are made for the two of them to bring their own meat if they don’t cotton to vegan burgers. This boy lives in the hope pieces of their beef will fall out of its bun and need cleaning up by Yours Truly. I catch myself drooling and for a split second see Otto’s unhappy face.

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